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Family Risk Evaluation Program

Family Risk Evaluation Program

What are your chances of developing cancer?

Having a family history of cancer can increase your risk or your family's risk of developing these cancers. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cancers are due to genetic factors that are passed on from one generation to the next.

Learning that you have an increased risk for developing cancer can enable you to take steps to lower that risk. These measures include increased surveillance for early detection and other preventative medical and surgical options.

The goal of the Family Risk Evaluation Program at the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center is to help individuals and their families learn more about risk factors associated with breast, ovarian, colon, uterine and other types of cancer. Participants will learn up-to-date information about their risk factors as well as screening and prevention options to reduce their risk.

What is included in the Family Risk Evaluation Program?

Participants meet with a genetic counselor specially trained in cancer genetic counseling. During this visit, the counselor will review the participant's personal medical history and family history of cancer. The counselor will then discuss the role of heredity in cancer risk, the possibility that a gene mutation could be causing the cancers in the family, and the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing.

Counseling is tailored to the individual risk profile of each participant based on personal and family health history. The cancer genetics counselor will explain the role of genetic factors in the development of certain types of cancer. Participants will learn how a detailed evaluation of their family history can lead to personalized recommendations for cancer risk reduction.

The discovery of cancer susceptibility genes has helped physicians become more aware of the importance of family history in assessing an individual's risk of developing cancer.  If your family history suggests that a gene mutation is present, the genetic counselor will discuss the pros and cons of genetic testing.

Who is eligible to participate in the Family Risk Evaluation Program?

Anyone 18 years or older, with a personal or family history of cancer may participate in the program. 

Recommended criteria include:

  • Multiple generations affected with cancer;
  • Bilateral cancer (for example, cancer in both breasts);
  • Young women with "triple negative" breast cancer;
  • Multiple cancers in one individual and/or multiple cancers in a family;
  • Certain combinations of cancers in a family (for example colon and uterine);
  • Diagnosis of ovarian cancer at any age;
  • Diagnoses of male breast cancer at any age;
  • Having Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish ancestry;
  • More than 10 colon polyps removed in a lifetime.
  • A person or a relative identified with a mutation in a known cancer predisposition gene (BRCA1, BRCA2, etc.).
  • Anyone concerned about their risk for developing cancer.

If you would like more information about the
Family Risk Evaluation Program at the
St. Mary Regional Cancer Center,
please contact the Coordinator at: